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Kenyan Churches Alarmed By Spread of ‘Mungiki’ Sect

Panafrican News Agency, 3 September 2000

Nairobi - The rapid spread of an unregistered "Mungiki" religious sect, which is advocating female circumcision, has alarmed mainstream churches in central Kenya.

A seminar organised by the National Council of Churches of Kenya or NCCK in Nyeri, about 107 miles north of Nairobi, heard Sunday that the sect, which also wants to ascribe to Islamic laws, is massively recruiting members from the established churches.

Mungiki members also sniff raw tobacco and dried and grounded roots.

This has alarmed church leaders who decided to call on the NCCK to conduct an urgent probe on the activities of the sect and offer guidance on how to confront it.

The sect, whose followers have been involved in daily confrontations with government officials, is also being accused of propagating activities and teachings that go against Christianity.

The Kenyan government views the Mungiki sect, which was founded early this year, as an upshot of a revolutionary society whose aim is to create lawlessness and political instability.

But the concern of Christians is the support the controversial sect has won from the Kenyan Muslim community.

On Saturday, the Council of Imams asked the government to stop harassing Mungiki followers or deprive their right to assemble at any place in Kenya.

Led by their chairman, Sheikh Ali Shee, the Imams at the port town of Mombasa, said the Mungiki movement followers were exercising their right of worship and should therefore not be harassed.

Sheikh Shee was speaking at a Mombasa mosque during the initiation of 13 Mungiki leaders who converted to Islam.

The Imams said that since Mungiki had become part and parcel of the Muslim community, they would not accept anybody to subject them to any form of mistreatment.

He appealed to Muslims to liase with Mungiki followers and construct mosques in central and rift valley provinces of Kenya.

Speaking after being converted to Islam, one of the Mungiki leaders, Ibrahim Ndura Waruinge, accused church leaders of inciting the police against the sect's members.

Waruinge, who claimed to be Mungiki's national co-ordinator, said the sect was not affiliated to any political party.